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The City of Corcoran planned to use building permit fees to finance its city hall renovation

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to a local city council about the obstacles to the construction of affordable housing which state and local governments erect in terms of in terms of taxes, fees, and regulations. According to a report from the Housing Affordability Institute, some localities are using these fees, which are meant to be for services rendered, to pad their general funds. I referred to the example of the city of Corcoran, which had been reported as using building permit fees to finance a city hall renovation. This, according to one of those present, was "a lie". Well,...

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Duluth School Board Under Fire Over Closed Door Meetings

For some reason, the agenda for the Duluth School Board's public meetings gets discussed and set in private behind closed doors. Not only are members of the public excluded from attending meetings to set the agenda. So are all but two of the school board members who represent the public. But perhaps not for much longer, thanks to questions raised in the news coverage and now the editorial page of the Duluth News Tribune. Yes, of course there’s suspicion — or the “implication” — “that there is something that is going on in School Board agenda meetings that’s secret or excludes people,”...

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Where Does the Buck Stop in the Unfolding DHS Scandals?

One of the recurring themes from the Walz administration in the multiple scandals at the Department of Human Services is that no one individual can be blamed or should be assigned responsibility for the unfolding mess at the state's biggest agency. That way no one can be held directly accountable. RELATED: How the Latest DHS Scandal is Just the Tip of the Iceberg But now Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans has arguably taken it a step further, providing cover for DHS staff responsible for dozens of newly uncovered violations in procedures and payments in an interview with the Pioneer Press. Minnesota’s...

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Olmsted County Taxpayers on Hook for $1.5 Million in Uncollected Fees

Olmsted County residents owe nearly $1.5 million in uncollected fees for services they received this year. But as 2019 winds down the chances of collecting most of those funds appears unlikely, according to the Rochester Post Bulletin. “There are a wide variety of things we charge for,” Deputy County Administrator Paul Fleissner, said noting the fees are related to a variety of county health, housing and human services. Approximately half of the uncollected fees — $747,000 — are related to alcohol and drug detox efforts, according to a report produced by Olmsted County Chief Financial Officer Wilfredo Roman-Catala. Fleissner said the detox fees...

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County Board Warned Raising Property Taxes For Citizens Group is Illegal

Residents of Freeborn County in southern Minnesota could be facing more than a 5 percent hike in their property tax levy next year. But a portion of the tax hike--roughly $200,000--under consideration by county commissioners may be illegal, according to the Albert Lea Tribune. The approximately 1% of the 5.6% preliminary tax levy approved by the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners and set aside for a potential donation to the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition may not have statute behind it, the Freeborn County attorney told the board Tuesday. “The county cannot, by law, just give taxpayer dollars to anyone or any cause,”...

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GreenStep Cities Program Rebuffed Again in Plymouth

In a surprising move back in June, the Plymouth City Council stood up to staff and rejected a recommendation to adopt the controversial GreenStep Cities environmental program run by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. At the time American Experiment wrote about several alert citizens who notified their elected officials of the threat posed by the program just in the nick of time. A funny thing happened on the way to the Twin Cities suburb becoming the latest domino in the  Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s “voluntary” plan to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint and make environmental sustainability the linchpin of city policy-making. City Hall...

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How the Latest DHS Scandal is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

This article appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Thinking Minnesota. To receive a free issue send your name and address to info@americanexperiment.org. Minnesotans of a certain age will always recall the Land of 10,000 Lakes as that squeaky clean, good government state personified by the still-famous August 1973 Time magazine cover of plaid-shirted DFL Governor Wendy Anderson hoisting a trophy northern pike. As Time wrote back then, “Minnesota is a state whose politics is almost unnaturally clean— no patronage, virtually no corruption.” Perhaps Minnesotans can be forgiven for holding their state in such high esteem. After all, U.S. News & World...

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Is the Minneapolis Park Board Playing Office Politics?

A curious thing happened at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's last meeting on October 16. The table appeared to be set for the liberal-dominated board to approve renting office space to an unusual tenant for a government entity--the ultra-left wing political activist group TakeAction Minnesota. The resolution lauded TakeAction's political goals of "working to realize racial and economic equity across Minnesota." But at the start of the meeting Park Board President Brad Bourne abruptly announced "we've had a request from staff and the applicant to pull" the resolution from the agenda. The proposed arrangement had raised eyebrows among observers who were...

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